Can EverQuest Next Live Up To Its Hype?
The Problems With Hype In The Gaming World
Separating hype from reality is a challenge in today's world of big promises and black boxes. Games live by the ability to stimulate a person to buy, play, and live within their world. Marketing spends thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours devising plans to get players to take the time out of their busy lives and to look forward to something new upon the horizon.
When it comes to most products being hyped, buyers remorse is hard to combat. The more hype surrounding a product generally means the higher the expectations. In the world of game production, projects can take years and years to implement new ideas and, with the expectations surrounding AAA titles, developers have to push themselves more than ever to deliver on promises they necessarily didn't make.
The interesting thing about hype is that its mostly done unintentionally by the developer. While a developing studio might pontificate on ideas of how to spread viral marketing it is the market that takes the ideas to the level of virality and not the developer's marketing itself. Once the community starts engaging the title and the promises it is making, the hyperbole begins.
Given time, the idea of the game can become even greater than the game itself. PlanetSide 2 does this really well with players buying into the promises of a game that breaks all boundaries, and while PlanetSide 2 does do its best to change the state of first person shooters, it is still a long way off from really shining.
Is it Hype that affects the game's review or is it the lack of game itself?
MMORPGs have always received a lot of hype, traditionally some more than others. Games like Star Wars: The Old Republic and Age of Conan, just to name a few, have ended up to be known as industry "failures" despite their large hype and their continued profits. Yes, the games failed to deliver on their promises to a point but did the fans misconstrue those promises so much that they were setting themselves up for a let down?
EverQuest Next's choice to be so open publicly about being in production and, I might add, in production with such big promises that it might be setting its future players up for disappointment.
Will EverQuest Next Collapse Under The Pressure?
Unfortunately, today, a lot of MMORPGs fail to meet their player's expectations come launch or even years after. Hype perpetuates a games fall out amongst the gaming community and even though a game may forever remain profitable, it will mostly be known for the problems it had versus the benefits it gave.
EverQuest Next is currently on the hype train and oddly enough without much of a presence. The game hasn't been shown and will not be shown until August 2nd, yet it has won two (yes TWO!) Best of Show awards from E3 and promises to be near revolutionary when it comes to the MMORPG world. We have been told to expect a pure sandbox game where nearly everything can be built and changed. MMORPG.com teased us with the premise that EverQuest Next won best of E3 not only because it was pretty much amazing but because it was able to compete toe-to-toe with ANY game at E3. This would be the first time a MMORPG could really compete on its own footing without being put into the submarket.
As it stands right now, EverQuest Next already has a subreddit and three to four fansites. The game currently holds a near 9.00 review and is the top game in development on MMORPG.com. Most forum posts on the site are also about the game, discussing well known topics in a level of debate that could be unhealthy for a game with little-to-no information revealed.
What We DO Know About EverQuest Next
- EverQuest Next WILL be a sandbox game- this means exploration, building and destructing the already confirmed seamless world.
- EverQuest Next uses StoryBricks artificial intelligence for creating emotionally "intelligent" NPCs. We have yet to see how intelligent they can be.
- Crafting will be of importance not only for creating buildings but creating armor and weapons. We can mostly expect a built in PlayerStudio like in EverQuest II, where players can create the models and textures for the weapons and armor themselves. I'd expect a more normalized crafting as well.
- Combat will be less of a button pusher than EverQuest II (confirmed at Fanfaire 2010). Not sure if we can expect actual DarkSouls like combat or more of a GuildWars 2 hybrid.
- EverQuest Next should be flipping gorgeous, excuse my french, as it uses the ForgeLight engine.
- EverQuest Next touts the possibility of open world PVP. Whether it is consensual or not has yet to be seen.
What Does Sony Online Entertainment Have to Do At SOE Live?
Short of blowing our pants off, SOE needs to really nail home the differences in EverQuest Next versus other AAA titles in development at the current time. It needs combat that can compete with The Elder Scrolls Online. Artificial Intelligence seems like it could be a huge thing for NPCs that usually stand around both for immersion and for gameplay. Smart AI could work together in combat situations to deliver engaging PVE battles not really seen in MMORPGs today.
SOE also needs to do more than show off pretty graphics and continue the large but physically absent promises. A playable demo was promised last year and it needs to be flawless. Not only should the demo display the promises that have been made but it should do so in a clean-cut form that could dispel any disbelief. I am not sure SOE can take a hit when it comes to quality due to recent criticisms of their products by fans. EverQuest Next will somehow have to balance the seemingly impossible goal of player created content and quality level immersion and do so before the competition catches up.
What do you think of the promises of EverQuest Next? Do you think the hype surrounding the game will lead to a general enthusiasm or will it balloon into exaggerated expectations? Sony Online Entertainment has kept a black box but has been teasing the game as we get closer to the reveal. They think they have something groundbreaking in their hands, and I must say, "I believe it too."
Let's see what August 2nd brings us!